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FAMILY WAY, THE (director/writer: Roy Boulting; screenwriters: from the play “All in Good Time” by Bill Naughton/Bill Naughton/Jeffery Dell; cinematographer: Harry Waxman; editor: Ernest Hosler; music: Paul McCartney; cast: Hayley Mills (Jenny Piper), Avril Angers (Liz Piper), John Comer (Leslie Piper), Wilfred Pickles (Uncle Fred), John Mills (Ezra Fitton), Marjorie Rhodes (Lucy Fitton), Hywel Bennett (Arthur Fitton), Murray Head (Geoffrey Fitton), Hazel Bainbridge (Mrs. Bell), Ruth Gower (Mrs. Pike), Diana Coupland (Mrs. Rose), Fanny Carby (Mrs. Stone), Helen Booth (Mrs. Lee), Margaret Lacey (Mrs. Harris), Barry Foster (Joe Thompson), Liz Fraser (Molly Thompson), Lesley Daine (Dora), Ruth Trouncer (Marriage Counselor); Runtime: 110; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: John Boulting; Studio Canal PAL format; 2008-UK)

A dated but still enjoyable smart comedy-drama.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A dated but still enjoyable smart comedy-drama directed by Roy Boulting (“Man in a Crooked Hat”/”Twisted Nerve”/”Seven Days to Noon”). It’s based onthe one-hour television play “All in Good Time” by Bill Naughton.

The story revolves around the developing problems in the marriage between newlyweds Arthur Fitton (Hywel Bennett) and the 20-year-old virgin Jenny Piper (Hayley Mills). After a church wedding, the innocent couple spend their wedding night in the home of Arthur’s working-class parents–Ezra (John Mills) and Lucy (Marjorie Rhodes). Arthur’s crude boss at the movie theater, Joe Thompson (Barry Foster), where the sensitive Arthur works at night as a projectionist, plays a practical joke and the wedding bed collapses. This disturbance is enough to make the nervous couple fail to consummate the marriage that night. The next day they discover that the travel agency swindled them out of their money, and they would have to cancel their honeymoon plans. The defeated couple return to live in Arthur’s room in his parents’ house, as they’re unable to afford a place of their own. After ten weeks the marriage is still not consummated, as Arthur feels there’s no privacy living with his parents and is unaware that his younger motorcycle riding brother Geoffrey (Murray Head) is coming on to the vulnerable sweet Jenny while he’s at work.

Poor Arthur feels terrible about his impotency, and finally agrees with Jenny’s request that he consult with a marriage counselor (Ruth Trouncer) since he has a poor relationship with his insensitive uneducated macho gasworks working dad and doesn’t feel comfortable asking him for advice. But a cleaning lady overhears Arthur talking to the counselor and tells all the other gossips in her circle, who spread the gossip through the Lancashire neighborhood. The frustrated Jenny, even though she promised not to tell, can’t help blurting it out to her nagging mom (Avril Angers). Mom, after promising not to tell, tells Jenny’s kind-hearted father (John Comer). The Pipers then visit the Fittons and tell all. When Arthur learns that his embarrassing secret is public knowledge, he freaks out.

This is Hayley Mills’ first adult role and she handles it with grace (even has a nude scene). Her real-life dad steals the picture, with a blustery performance as the gruff blowhard dad who will finally show he has a heart of gold by laying out the money for his son to buy a house. Marjorie Rhodes as John Mills’ long-suffering but understanding wife, has a nice turn conveying motherly warmth to the struggling couple. The sentimentality is kept in check by the fine ensemble cast, as this is a superior farce that has charm, class and conveys a proper sympathy to the likable newlyweds and their domestic problems.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”